If the headlines threatening a global economic meltdown are causing you to rethink your search marketing strategy, you’ll probably have considered taking your paid search campaigns back in house, shelving your PPC campaigns entirely or turning your hand to organic optimization in a bid to reduce marketing costs.
However you’re cutting costs, organic search shouldn’t be the area in which you skimp. Organic traffic is often more qualified, more interested and less expensive than traffic accrued in any other way, making it a safe bet when times are lean. Unfortunately, a good SEO campaign can also cost serious bucks so it’s important to spend dollars wisely when all the indicators point to a nationwide financial slump.
There are several ways to make an SEO campaign a good investment during an economic downturn. One option is to focus on a single core area, giving you a performance focused optimization strategy based on tried and tested market share. Good SEO during a bad economy should never be a dressed up attempt to crack a new market – if the bottom line is being closely scrutinized, it’s not the time for experiments. Instead, efforts should be built around increasing the online presence of one best selling product or service with its own proven track record.
All search engine optimization activity needs clearly defined objectives and if the main thrust is to increase inbound leads or actual sales figures, targeting an individual business area makes the end result much more attainable. The example I often give here is to think of a house in need of decoration. Problem is you only have one can of paint. Do you choose to spread the can thinly around the whole house and do a mediocre job in every room or do you focus on just one room and do a proper job? When cash is short this mindset can be successfully applied to SEO. Choosing a product that has performed well previously also means you have historic data to base marketing decisions on. There’s also the confidence borne of a previous warm reception that ensures the new optimisation campaign is not wasted as an R and D exercise.
It goes without saying that a carefully constructed plan of attack is an intrinsic part of successful search marketing activity. Remembering this basic missive will provide structure and symmetry, especially if money worries have resulted in an in-house campaign. Like going into battle, each detail must be meticulously planned. Roles must be assigned and understood if a pared down campaign is to be successful. Just because you’re operating on a budget and targeting wary consumers is not an excuse for poor performance. Turning good into great means spending extra time on the details; you can’t just write off missed opportunities and forgotten deadlines in a fiercely competitive, recession-fearing market. To minimise this risk, gather a small, well drilled team who can each carry out a specific task. Giving others responsibilities maximises effectiveness as each person can play to their own strengths. Doubling the workforce also means twice as many hours can go into optimisation
At this stage of recession time SEO, you can tick off the usual starting points such as deciding on keywords, assessing the site for content changes and identifying link partners. Most importantly if your campaign is to bear fruit, decide on and implement reporting structures. Good SEO is accountable and measurable. If you can’t envisage using the data your reporting systems provide to write a performance testimony at monthly intervals, your SEO is not sufficient to survive economic turmoil. In order to justify SEO spend when times are hard, the number of sales, revenue generated, value of web presence secured and brand penetration of the campaign must all be available as real time metrics. If you can go into a meeting and say this piece of content resulted in 10 new customers, or traffic from this inbound link led to 15 referrals, you can be confident your optimisation activity is overcoming economic hurdles and adding value to your bottom line. If your reporting doesn’t give you this luxury, it will be difficult to justify ongoing spend on search marketing.
Use Social Media
Social networks provide an incredibly useful word of mouth buzz at a fraction of the cost of expensive pay per click and banner campaigns if done correctly. If you’ve only so far used sites like Squidoo and Blogger to build links, shame on you. These social media sites are a hot bed of peer to peer recommendation and consumer review. Now more than ever, a good social media campaign can build brand loyalty, secure new business and propel more relevant traffic than ever before. The key to incorporating social media in organic search marketing activity is to recognise it for what it is; not a place to preach ad messages but an interactive arena and space for conversation. Embrace this grassroots environment, provide content that respects and adds value to the conversation and your SEO will shine despite the gloom of financial forecasts.
Canada’s Online Retail Revolution Picks Up Steam.
New numbers from statistics Canada show that Canadians are taking advantage of e-tailing like never before.
Online shopping has increased by more than 61 percent in two years. ringing up a record $12.8 billion in sales in 2007.
A total of of 69.9 million orders were placed online in 2007, up from 49.4 million in 2005.
Overall more than 8.4 million Canadians aged 16 and over purchased something online last year.
Need Online Marketing Help? Call us today 204.942.4200
I couldn’t believe when I read the article in the December 17th edition of the Winnipeg Free Press titled “Harper’s visit brings museum closer to reality.” I expected to be reading about the merits of Canada’s first national museum in over four decades, and the first to be outside of the Ottawa region, and how its creation will be a driving force in placing Winnipeg on the map internationally.
Though portions of the story covered this, I was quite disgusted to see the impact of the world’s first Human Rights Museum compared to Canada’s 12th IKEA store.
Is the economic impact of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights not important enough to have it’s own story? Do Winnipeggers value a big box furniture store equally to an international museum? Considering the next two pages were dedicated to IKEA and its economic impact to Winnipeg, you’d think they could have refrained from mentioning the Winnipeg IKEA in the same story as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
It seems as a city we are beginning to recognize how good we have it in Winnipeg, and a project like the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is one we can champion as a catalyst for drawing tourism from around the globe. However, once again, the media in our city misrepresents the values of Winnipeggers by diminishing our position as leaders in Human Rights issues with the same “cheap – tight – looking for a sale” label that has come to define us. Do we want to be known as ambassadors of Human Rights or bargain hunters?
Yes, I understand the positive impacts an IKEA in Winnipeg will make to our economy, and I agree it is a good addition to the city. My argument isn’t whether we need an IKEA; my point is that our media should place more respect to Winnipeg’s first, truly international tourism draw, especially considering the nature of its content.
I wonder if the shovel Stephen Harper uses to break ground for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights will be same one he uses for Winnipeg’s first IKEA? I think the shovel should first be used to bury this embarrassing story.
What do you think?
Small firms urged to consider search engine marketing
Small businesses could do more to take advantage of the benefits of search engine marketing.
This is according to Microsoft, which has released the findings of a new survey suggesting that six in ten US small businesses with a website currently do not make use of search marketing services.
The study also found that 86 per cent of the 400 small business owners surveyed were fearful they may be missing out on ways to grow their operations, with three-quarters of respondents saying it was likely that consumers search online for their offerings.
A quarter of firms said they felt search advertising was too complicated for them, while 35 per cent admitted that they would require the services of a search engine marketing agency to help them with such campaigns.
“By investing in paid search marketing, small businesses can track online sales and determine the return on investment for their campaigns, while at the same time boosting traffic and visibility for their websites,” Brian Boland, director of adCenter at Microsoft Advertising, commented.
Recent research by the Federation of Small Businesses showed that 70 per cent of small firms in the UK currently have their own website.
Almost all of us use search engines, but most Britons “either have no idea or an inaccurate view of how online search results are determined,” according to the Online Search Matters Survey produced for FastHosts, the Web hosting company. The main findings are:
Nearly 1 in 4 Britons (24%) believe that the order of the search listings they use cannot be influenced by the publishers of websites listed, whilst a similar proportion (22%) suspect that results are ordered entirely according to how much has been paid by the websites listed. 1 in 5 consumers (19%) have no idea at all how results are compiled, and 5% believe that search listings are arranged completely at random like a lottery.
To be clear: the major search engines do not charge for listings, but their results are influenced by Web site publishers, partly through the use of SEO (search engine optimisation) techniques.
Men (33%) understand how search engines work a little better than women (26%).
Britons also trust organic results more than the “sponsored listings” that often appear above or alongside them. Fasthosts says:
1 in 3 (33%) believe these listings to be ‘less worthy’ and ‘less useful’ than main search results. Two thirds of web users (66%) report that they always pay attention first to main results, and some 40% of women and 34% of men will consciously ignore sponsored links whenever they appear.
The survey is based on 1,636 UK adults interviewed by Tickbox.net in November 2008 via electronic feedback forms.
Of course, if you started compiling a list of things that lots of Brits don’t understand, you’d be busy for some time. It’s also not clear that understanding how search engines work has much practical value if you just want to find sites, rather than promote them. However, if I ran a search engine, I’d be looking for ways to make it clearer that organic results, unlike sponsored links, are not paid for.
The online marketing strategy of search engine optimization [SEO] could prove to be an asset for those working in nonprofit organisations,according to researchers.
A team working at Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management discovered that search marketing can prove to be a cost-effective strategy and therefore useful for non-profit groups.
It also suggested that using keywords to boost SEO could attract the attention of potential benefactors, which could provide a welcome boost during the economic downturn.
The researchers stated in their report: “The compilation, selection, and evaluation of search engine keywords are vitally important to any Search Engine Marketing campaign.”
Last week, ITV released the results of a poll, which discovered that respondents claim prefer overlay advertisements to pre-roll advertisements.
Today the U.S. Internet titan will take the wraps off its first-ever Google Canada Zeitgeist, a yearly ranking of the most common Web queries made by Canadians through the company’s search engine.
The results are as surprising as they are curious.
The most common keyword Canadians punched into Google this year was “Facebook,” the popular social-networking site. Google’s own video-sharing site YouTube came in at No. 2, and music-loving Canucks pushed “lyrics” into the No. 3 slot. The Top 10 also contained more mundane terms such as “map” and “weather.”
Until this year, the list only included U.S. search data, but for 2008, Google is taking the Zeitgeist international for the first time by publishing the top queries from 36 countries, including Canada.
If the federal election were to be decided on the basis of which party Canadians spent the most time Googling in 2008, then prime minister Elizabeth May would be unpacking at 24 Sussex Dr.
“Obama” was the keyword that saw the greatest increase in Canadian search queries between 2007 and 2008.
But on a global basis, no search keyword showed greater growth than “Sarah Palin.”
TOP POLITICAL PARTIES
1. Green Party
2. Liberal Party
3. Conservative Party
5. Bloc Québécois
1. Britney Spears
2. Jessica Alba
3. Heath Ledger
4. Lindsay Lohan
5. Angelina Jolie
6. Kim Kardashian
7. Megan Fox
8. Tila Tequila
9. Zac Efron
10. Pamela Anderson
TOP PERSONAL ELECTRONICS
1. Palm Treo
4. HP iPAQ
Zeitgeist Canada 2008
Canadians have Googled the social-networking site Facebook more than any other website this year.
For the first time, Internet search-engine giant Google released its most-popular and fastest-rising Canuck search queries for 2008.
Google says Britney Spears topped the list for most the sought-after celeb in Canadian cyberspace and the Green party as the most-searched political party.
The California-based company ranks the massively popular Facebook first overall.
It also says the search word “Obama” rose in popularity more than any other term between the end of 2007 and November 2008.
Yahoo! Canada released its most-searched items for 2008 earlier this month.
Yahoo! says Canadians queried the online multiplayer adventure game RuneScape more than anything else this year.
The company also says Miley Cyrus surged ahead of last year’s most-popular celebrity, Britney Spears.
1. Under-monetize to buy mindshare. (almost every category Google is in)
2. Offer a free version to make sure everyone who may want to has a chance to experience your product and/or service. (almost every category Google is in)
3. Offer something that forces people to keep coming back to your website. Alternatively, bundle your stuff into the browser. (the Google Toolbar is huge.)
4. Invest heavily in distribution deals and public relations. Keep making small changes and talking about how important they are so you stay in the media. Maintain that your success is because superior products even while you are buying marketshare.
5. If a business model competes with your model, try to guide the conversation and get market participants to attack each other to your own benefit (this, above all other reasons, is why it is not smart for “professional” SEOs to publicly endorse outing each other…nobody wins but Google).
6. Offer free or low cost versions of cash cows of competing services to distract them and/or force change upon them. (Google Docs)
7. Even when you have a market leading position, keep investing heavily in complimentary markets to reinforce your position as the default. Become ubiquitous. Become a verb. (mobile operating system)
8. When you tap out the potential of your product or service look for ways to make it deeper is select high value verticals. (onebox, universal search, site search)
9. When you have enough leverage and a large enough lead, change the market to put yourself at the center of it. (the Omnibox in Google Chrome)
If your site hasn’t added a Google Sitemap page, consider doing so. Google and other major search engines share a common feature that allows Webmasters to tell them about each page of their sites available for crawling and how often it changes and how important it is to the site. “You’re actually producing a page to have the search engine come to you,” he says.
Another free tool especially useful for small companies with a local clientele is Google Maps, a free local business-listing service, which displays an address, hours and description, sometimes at the top of a search-results page.
“It’s hard to pay for that kind of advertising